Members of the Schengen zone should not issue tourist visas to Russians, the Estonian prime minister has insisted.
Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas has urged Schengen countries to stop issuing tourist visas to Russian citizens.
“Stop issuing tourist visas to Russians. Visiting Europe is a privilege, not a human right.” Called wrote on Twitter on Tuesday. Apparently he was unaware that about 75% of Russia’s population is already on the mainland.
The EU suspended air travel from Russia following the launch of Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine in late February, but Schengen Area countries continued to issue visas to Russians, he wrote. Estonia, Latvia and Finland, which border Russia, have been forced to “bear the load” as “single access points” in the bloc for Russian citizens, Kallas explained, apparently forgetting about Poland and Lithuania, adding that it was “It’s time to end tourism from Russia now.”
The Schengen agreement allows borderless travel between 26 European countries. These include most of the EU member states, with the exception of Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Romania and Ireland. The non-EU countries in the pact are Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
The Estonian prime minister’s tweet followed a call by Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky for all Russians to be banned from traveling to the West for at least a year.
“The most important sanctions are closing the borders, because the Russians are taking someone else’s land.” Zelensky told the Washington Post on Monday. The Russians should “they live in their own world until they change their philosophy”, he insisted. Last week, Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu told Bloomberg that the Baltic state wanted to see an EU-wide travel visa ban for Russian citizens in the bloc’s next round of sanctions against Moscow.
Reinsalu made the comments while in kyiv, where he said the idea had been discussed with Zelensky.
Estonia has been a staunch supporter of Ukraine during its conflict with Russia, advocating even tougher EU sanctions against Moscow.
Tallinn stopped issuing most types of visas to Russians shortly after the fighting broke out. However, Estonia cannot prevent the entry of Russian citizens if they have a visa issued by another EU member state.
Several other EU nations — Lithuania, Latvia, Poland and the Czech Republic — also imposed visa restrictions, but an EU-wide ban would require the approval of all 27 members of the bloc.